Why I’m OK with Some Regrets

Most of life’s shitty rom-com’s center around living life to the fullest, chasing down that last hurrah, and leaving no regrets in your wake. We’re taught from a young age that only the bold follow their guts, challenge the status-quo, and inspire the rest of the sheep in the pasture. We weep with these Stars, living out our everyday lives on screen, all the while never realizing just how capable we really are of the greatness we see all around us – but fail to see in ourselves.  

Some of my greatest growths have been inspired by regret. Regretting my decision to choose Butter-Pecan Swirl over Praline Supreme motivated me to return to my favorite neighborhood ice cream parlor. Feeling like I missed out on the meal of a life-time, when I ordered the Eggs Benedict at Brunch instead of the Lobster Special, sparked a three-week obsession with lobster Mac & Cheese. Choosing to go to a local University instead of leaving home filled me with so much regret, that once I gained the confidence to expose myself to foreign concepts, I haven’t wasted another opportunity to travel.

Regret has encouraged me to remain steadfast in my decision to lock negative associates and even loved ones out of my life. The pain of betrayal has made me regret not speaking up for myself when I should have. It has morphed me into a woman of principle. Though I, like many others, still try to find the balance of forgiveness and accountability. Regrets have taught me who I no longer want to be and I am one-hundred percent okay with that. I had to learn some lessons the hard way and my regrets will serve as reminders of how far I have managed to come. 

Unlike the world would have us believe, I don’t think that failures define us, they reshape us. If nothing more, they serves as a standard for comparing your current progress to your past. Being decisive has never been easy for me, nor for people like me, who find themselves drawn to all kinds of endeavors. Those who find that they’re slightly better than average in quite a few different art forms, or those who simply can’t decide between a Venti Mocha Swirl and a regular-schmegular Caramel Latte. The ones who aren’t sure of any direction that lay ahead. Particularly the ones who feel like everyone else is just watching, weighing in, and judging. Last but not least, the ones who think the opinion of others is confirmation of your worst fears and the totality of your being.

If we lived with no regrets we would never grow. We’d simply wither in stagnation and slip away into a sea of uniformity, too afraid to step out of line and embrace the unknown wonders that lie within us. Our regrets, our fears, and our biggest mistakes are some of the most pivotal moments in life. They are the opportunity to finally choose a path, change direction, or to try things a new way. Regrets are the recipe for a new way of doings things and you may find that you like how the grass feels on the other side after all. In retrospect, I think the old adage should encourage us to live a full life and if you have some regrets nestled in there, then that’s okay too. We’ve all come from somewhere, let the past serve as a guide for your inevitable future.

Again, these are the musings of a quarter-century Chicagoan. What do I know except how to throw-back WhiteClaws and drain the economy according to the Boomer’s before me. I’m not advocating for settling – the exact opposite actually. I’m encouraging you to go for it and risk it all, because you remember and regret that one time before that you didn’t.

But if you’re reading this, and you’ve shaken the shame of your regrets, know that there’s at least one other person on planet Earth holding that middle-finger up right along with you. 

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